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Diving the Great Barrier Reef!

Whatever our (fairly neutral) feelings about Australia as a whole, it must be said that we ended our 8-week trip on a high. The Great Barrier Reef is more than deserving of its place as one of the seven wonders of the natural world, and for me it was the site of several diving firsts; my first reef dive, first dive without a guide and first shark sighting.

Although initially worried by the large number of people on the boat, it soon came to light that most were aboard just for snorkelling, and in fact only about ten people were fellow divers. I must admit I've never been more grateful for my dive license; as the snorkellers splashed about on the surface fighting for space, John and I jumped into the water with a guide and one other girl and sank into the quiet tranquility of the reef.

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Our first dive at Hasting's Reef was led by a divemaster, who led us around the reef pointing out coral and marine life as we went. We passed a reef plant covered with closed buds that opened when you ran a hand over them, and soon spotted some clown fish (aka 'nemo fish'). Our divemaster also handed us some lumps of rubbery matter with a spongy, slimy feel, that turned out to be sea slugs.

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After a buffet lunch we moved to our second location, Saxon's Reef. and decided to attempt our second dive without guidance. After a quick briefing on navigating around the reef, we jumped in and began our solo adventure. We quickly encountered a large fish hiding under the boat, but soon left it in the company of snorkellers and descended deeper into the ocean. We were intrigued by a venus-fly-trap-style plant that almost closed on my fingers as I waved a hand near it.

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However, our most exciting discovery was yet to come. We had been told that sharks were present in the area, but we hardly dared hope to find one until we rounded a cluster of coral and spotted one just below us on the sea bed! John is notoriously terrified of sharks, and initially seemed to fight the urge to swim for the surface, but as we swam closer it was clear the reef shark had no interest in us. At around 1.5m it was fairly small in size, but we rose to the surface at the end of our dive with exhilaration still coursing through our veins. Fantastic!

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Posted by kate1401 15:57 Archived in Australia Tagged diving shark great_barrier_reef coral

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